Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Metheglin

Wednesday 29 February 1659/60

To my office, and drank at Will’s with Mr. Moore, who told me how my Lord is chosen General at Sea by the Council, and that it is thought that Monk will be joined with him therein. Home and dined, after dinner my wife and I by water to London, and thence to Herring’s, the merchant in Coleman Street, about 50l. which he promises I shall have on Saturday next. So to my mother’s, and then to Mrs. Turner’s, of whom I took leave, and her company, because she was to go out of town to-morrow with Mr. Pepys into Norfolk. Here my cosen Norton gave me a brave cup of metheglin, the first I ever drank. To my mother’s and supped there.

As February 29th comes so infrequently, it may serve as an excuse to imbibe, as did Samuel Pepys, who records in his journal trying metheglin for the first time.  Pepys doesn’t mention whether he enjoyed this libation (spiced mead).  Walter Scott provides Henry the smith in “The Fair Maid of Perth” with metheglin to spice up his story.

‘The smith, though reluctantly, was obliged to defer to the reasoning of his proposed father in law, and, once determined to accept the honour destined for him by the fathers of the city, he extricated himself from the crowd, and hastened home to put on his best apparel; in which he presently afterwards repaired to the council house, where the ponderous oak table seemed to bend under the massy dishes of choice Tay salmon and delicious sea fish from Dundee, being the dainties which the fasting season permitted, whilst neither wine, ale, nor metheglin were wanting to wash them down…’

Scott, by the way, recorded one February 29th entry in his journal; in 1828.

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